The Value of MFPs

Do more and do it with less. Manage more data and do it efficiently. Reduce waste to be more environmentally friendly without sacrificing quality. These are only a few of the challenges facing college and university administrators and staff. On the printing and data management front, the needs are just as demanding. Thankfully, the tried-and-true printer has evolved over the years to help answer many of these challenges.

Enter the multifunction printer (MFP). If you haven’t been in an office lately, you may not realize the important benefits that MFPs offer when it comes to improving the bottom line and increasing efficiency while helping to meet sustainability objectives.

Meeting the Challenge
Denise McLaughlin, director of integrated marketing, Enterprise Business Group for Xerox, says that education decision makers face multiple challenges. “These individuals must demonstrate fiscal responsibility, meet IT challenges, and provide resources to meet the needs of multiple constituents,” she said. “When it comes to document and data management resources, they must be able to show that any new investment will help to meet performance goals, standards, financial requirements, and other demands.”

McLaughlin advocates completing a fact-based assessment on actual current use patterns, applications, and user needs as a necessary step before considering a system overhaul. She says that the data from the assessment can then be used to set targets for improvements while helping to determine how MFPs can be part of a larger return-on-investment story.

“The baseline is used to work out a realistic plan to optimize equipment placements and to implement solutions to help lower costs and mange printing on the right devices,” McLaughlin said. “By directing print jobs to the most appropriate device, users can manage documents more efficiently and reduce consumables and supplies waste in addition to reducing storage space needs. The scanning features available on many MFPs enable users to manage more documents electronically. In addition, the use of MFPs can help to achieve reductions in handling time or data rekeying, costly physical storage costs, and hard-copy mailing costs.”

Multiple Benefits
MFPs should be viewed as an integral part of an overall information management strategy. The equipment and its accompanying technology provide a cost-effective solution for producing and scanning a wealth of documents, including promotional and fundraising materials, performance evaluations, reports, test results, handbooks, and budgets.

Arthur Payne is director, design and digital print, at Fairfield University in New Jersey, and has more than 27 years of experience in print production. “Our copiers were decentralized when I began working,” he said. “Centralizing our operations and maximizing the use of MFPs provides us with many benefits and has helped us to achieve many print production and data management goals.”

Several years ago, Payne and his staff undertook and completed a Request for Proposal process related to their MFP use. Prior to the RFP, they spent a year researching what other institutions were doing and analyzed available equipment on the market.

“We had several key factors that we used to help us evaluate the proposals we received,” Payne said. “Service, technology, pricing, maintenance, and both on-line and on-site customer service support were very important. We wanted a vendor that could help us move forward with our fleet as well as helping us to undertake the transition to digital print production.”

Payne and his team ultimately selected Xerox as their partner for the program based on the capabilities of the company’s MFPs as well as a strong comfort level with the company’s sales representative and support staff. There are now 80 units on campus that are more efficient than what was previously available to faculty, staff, and students. Equally important, Fairfield now has a comprehensive plan for moving forward as the institution’s needs change.

IT Interface
Both public and private institutions have experienced tough economic conditions in recent years and, unfortunately, improvements on the financial side are slow in coming.

“The technology aspects of MFPs are very important and can help to meet many critical IT requirements,” said Valeria Phillips, WW market development consultant, education, managed enterprise solutions, imaging and print group, for HP. “IT personnel must provide their institutions with the tools they need to administer education while reducing the cost of doing so.”

Phillips says that MFPs offer three important benefits. First, they consolidate output technology (copiers, single-function printers, and fax machines) into one unit, which reduces costs associated with the management and maintenance of three separate systems. Second, an infrastructure of networked MFPs can be managed remotely and proactively to reduce the management burden on IT and Help Desk personnel. Finally, MFPs can provide even greater customer service benefits when combined with additional software such as document capture or document management programs.

“Once MFPs are in place, there are several key elements to maximizing this investment,” Phillips says. “Use authentication mechanisms to ensure security and control access. In addition, customers should take advantage of available MFP scanning functions to automate paper-intensive faculty and administration processes.”

Success at Pace
Pace University serves 13,000 students on three campuses in New York City, Westchester, and White Plains, NY. Administrators and staff wanted to improve functionality, manageability, and the environmentally friendliness of the institution’s print service infrastructure.

After evaluating multiple alternatives, school officials elected to install HP MFPs equipped with Pharos Uniprint print management software in all libraries and research centers. The benefits have exceeded initial expectations.

Paper waste was reduced by 100,000 sheets per semester and the number of pages printed was reduced by 50 percent. Equally important, labor cost savings were repurposed by $80,000 per semester. These and other benefits and savings were achieved while also giving students the flexibility to print from classrooms, off-site locations, or from laptops. And all this was achieved while reducing the number of printers from 40 to 29.

MFPs along do not provide all the answers when it comes to data management and document production, but they are a valuable part in finding a positive solution. The keys to success lie in carefully evaluating existing technology and user requirements and then in analyzing the equipment and capabilities of potential partners for the services that are required. At the end of the day, an institution cannot go wrong with implementing a comprehensive MFP strategy.